What is 'Durometer?'
Durometer, or "duro" for short, is the standard scale for hardness of urethane. This scale is utilized for wheels, bushings, or pivot cups. The higher the number, the harder the material is. Longboards use the portion of the scale labeled 'a', yet traditional hard skateboard wheels can fit in the same scale at the furthest end of the spectrum (around 100a). For practical longboard applications, expect to see durometers in the table below.
These numbers mean everything in regards to your setup. Different durometers are meant to bring out different characteristics of whatever you're riding, and the more you know about how durometer effects each component, the better. So, lets look at how durometer plays a part in wheels, pivot cups, and bushings!
Wheels can vary extremely based on what durometer they are, but there is no concrete way to explain a direct correlation between durometer and how a wheel will feel. This is due to the huge amount of other variances involved, such as what urethane the wheel is poured with, where it was poured, what sort of core it has, its shape, and so on. Regardless, the general idea around wheel durometer is the softer it is, the more the wheel will deform, grip, kill speed in a slide, shed more urethane quicker, and be slower on smooth surfaces, as well as dampen some of the vibration from rougher surfaces. Harder wheels will initiate quicker into a slide, will kill less speed/the slide will be "icier", overall will last longer and be quicker on smooth surfaces and rougher on hard ones. Durometers feel different from rider to rider primarily based on weight, but also because of all the other differences amongst setups. In a general cruising and grip sense, heavier riders can often ride slightly harder wheels because they have more physical force to get the same level of compression a lighter rider would get out of a softer wheel. For sliding and freeride, heavier riders will have an easier time sliding softer wheels than lighter riders because their momentum will break through the resistance of the wheel easier. Also, heavier riders will decimate those soft wheels much quicker for the exact reason they slide easier: more force. Once again, there is no definitive scale to explain the differences. For reference though, if you were to take 66mm Abec 11 Freerides and compare each durometer, these are some differences you would notice.
|78a||Shortest lifespan, hardest to initiate,
darkest/most thane left on road, quicker to flatspot,
slowest rolling, slows you down the fastest
smooth slides on chunder, grip otherwise
|81a||Mid-ranged longevity, more seamless initiation,
average thane without as much wear, slightly more
flatspot prone (easier to 90 blast), average roll,
smooth/controllable slide, slides well on all surfaces
|84a||Longest lasting, quick initiation, lightest thane
with smallest amount of urethane shed, more
flatspot resistant, good roll speed, bad vibration
for rougher roads, least amount of grip
We chose Freerides because there are no additional variables, with no differences besides the durometer.
Pivot cups usually hang around the 90a-93a range, with the softer durometers for absorption and lean, harder for more accurate, precise turns. Changing the pivot cup in your trucks really effects the rate of turn, seeing as it alters how squishy or firm the hangers' pivot point is. Softer pivot cups (85a-90a depending on the riders weight) will offer more cushion, giving you more lean than actual turn, along with taking away potential shock from rougher roads. In turn, this will offer more stability and less immediate, wobbly feels. Firmer pivot cups (92a-100a depending on the riders weight) will give you a more solid wall of urethane, making turns more exact due to the pivot not digging into the pivot cup. If you're looking for direct response, get a harder pivot cup. If you want some more cushion for pushing speed, or just for chundery pavement, softer is the way to go.
Click here to see the pivot cups we carry.
Most stock bushings are around 85a, but they vary from company to company.
|Truck Brand||Stock Bushing Durometer|
Initially, stock bushings are something a rider can get used to, especially for the more novice riders who have not experienced anything else. However, stock bushings are typically not going to be what you want long term. This is due to the poorer quality of urethane used, leading the bushings to wear out and become dead more quickly. Plus, they typically come in a barrel and cone setup, which is not ideal for any speed oriented style of riding. To top it all off, odds are they won't be a proper durometer for your weight. Bushings are more weight dependent than wheels or pivot cups because they are what impact the turn and level of support your trucks provide. If you are heavier you will need a harder durometer, and if you're lighter you will need a softer durometer. Here at Motion, we've carried Venom for a long time, and are the most familiar with their shapes and urethane. Their bushings range from 78a-97a and you can find their relation to weight below. We also carry Blood Orange bushings. Since bushing performance depends so heavily on weight, style of riding, the trucks being used, user preference, and more, never hesitate to call, email us to get a second opinion on your setup.
Click here for more information on bushings.